Tensions Keep Spiraling in West Bank as Anger Grows Over IDF Raids
West Bank political analyst says Palestinians believe 'the only solution for rights is resistance,' while Israeli researcher points to 'severe weakening' of PA rule, looming power struggle over future Abbas successor
Israel’s military and security forces have stepped up their operations in the West Bank, carrying out nightly raids and arresting dozens of Palestinians. Many of these operations are in areas under the Palestinian Authority’s control and have triggered frequent clashes with residents.
Palestinians say more than 2,000 people have been arrested in these raids and incursions, while the IDF claims it succeeded in thwarting hundreds of attacks.
Tensions in the West Bank have continued to escalate, with two Palestinians killed by Israeli forces near Ramallah on Monday, and as violent attacks between Palestinians and settlers on the rise.
The Palestinian Health Ministry in Ramallah reports that 113 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank and east Jerusalem so far this year, making it the deadliest year since 2016. Meanwhile, 19 Israelis were also killed in attacks between mid-March and the beginning of May, and an Israeli army officer was killed in an exchange of gunfire near Jenin in mid-September.
Emad Abu Awad, a political analyst based in the West Bank, told The Media Line that the recent escalation can be attributed to Israeli army operations in the West Bank.
“The repeated violations of the occupation in the West Bank, particularly giving free hand to the settlers.”
Another reason Awad says is the Palestinians’ “feeling that the only solution for rights is resistance.”
Abu Awad says the lack of political and economic horizon for the Palestinians also plays a major role in the escalation. He argues that the success or failure of the Israeli military campaign in the Palestinian Territories should be measured by the result.
“There are Israeli tactical successes such as arrests and cell dismantling, but in the end as long as there are resistance operations, this then indicates that there is a strategic failure.”
Yaakov Lappin, a research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv, told The Media Line that the Israeli military operations in the West Bank have been relatively successful.
“The IDF’s operations have been highly effective at stopping Palestinian gunmen, mostly from the Jenin region, infiltrating Israeli cities and going on indiscriminate killing sprees.”
He says a “combination of factors” is behind this uptick in violence.
“The first [being] a breakdown or severe weakening of Palestinian Authority rule in Jenin, Nablus, and surrounding areas,” he says.
According to Lappin, an internal Palestinian fight over who will succeed PA President Mahmoud Abbas is another factor in the recent rise in tensions.
With the “overall weakening and fracturing of the PA and Fatah, due to the developing power struggle between Fatah camps over who will succeed Abu Mazen [Abbas], a power struggle that could end up hitting the streets of the West Bank,” Lappin says.
He also points the finger at the “rise of a new generation of Palestinian youths in the northern West Bank, which does not remember the days of the Second Intifada, and which is seeking a new identity. This generation has no faith in the PA, views Israel as an enemy.”
Many Palestinians say repeated Israeli actions against the PA are unfair, accusing the Israeli military decisions of fanning the flames of the tension. They point to the almost daily incursions and nightly arrest campaigns, and blame Israel for the recent deterioration of the security situation in the West Bank.
“There is some blame that falls on the PA for losing its focus on the political role and allowing itself to become busy with the economic dimension and forgot the main issue that the Palestinian people want liberation and an independent state,” Abu Awad says.
But the political analyst rejects the Israeli assertion that the Palestinian Authority is to blame, saying the “PA is part of the Palestinian people, and not a security apparatus that works for the occupation.”
Abu Awad says that growing number of Palestinians are supportive of these attacks.
“There’s a silent Palestinian majority that believes in the resistance and that the occupation should be confronted by force,” he says.
While Abu Awad warns that “we are approaching facing a phase of escalation,” he also downplays its possible scale, adding that, “it will be disciplined and not reach the stage of a comprehensive explosion.”
Israel is facing a new Palestinian generation, that is “motivated to confront the occupation,” says Abu Awad.
“It seems that the Palestinians now feel that the only way to protect themselves against the occupation and settlers’ attacks is to defend themselves by themselves, and therefore we are seeing more operations recently,” he says.
Abu Awad says the PA has lost control in some areas, and in other places there is slackening of authority.
“The reason behind this is that members of the Palestinian security services have begun to re-think their role, and feel somewhat ashamed, and that their role is only to implement agreements that Israel turned its back on.”